2009 Big Ten Men's Track and Field Championships Preview
Feb. 27, 2009
Penn State University and Ashenfelter Multi-Sport Facility will host the 99th annual running of the Big Ten Men’s Indoor Track and Field Championships. The event first began in 1911 in Evanston, Ill., with Northwestern as the host school. The 2009 event features some of the best teams and athletes in the country with three squads ranking in the USTFCCCA’s Top 25. Minnesota leads the conference at No. 13, followed by No. 18 Michigan State and No. 24 Michigan.
Illinois returns 400-meter dash champion Gakologelwang Masheto who owns the NCAA’s record in the 500m. run. Junior Gary Miller looks to provide quality points for the Illini in the 600m. and as a member of the 4x400m. relay team.
Indiana hopes to improve upon its ninth-place showing from 2008 with talent both on and off the track. Senior Jeff Coover holds the nation’s ninth-best pole vault clearance at 17-7.25 (5.37m.) while sophomore De’Sean Turner has been among the conference’s best at 800m.
Iowa will look to John Hickey for veteran leadership as the senior holds the county’s fifth-best shot put throw at 63 feet (19.20m.). On the track, expect Iowa to field strong competition in the sprints and mid-distance as Paul Chaney, Adam Hairston, Patrick Richards, D’Juan Richardson and Ray Varner all rank among the Big Ten’s best in their respective events.
Michigan has strong potential to improve upon its sixth-place finish from last season with a wealth of top talent. Senior sprinter Adam Harris will vie for the title of Big Ten’s Fastest Man in the 60m. dash as he owns the fourth-fastest collegiate time at 6.60. In the ring, junior Sean Pruitt looks for a gold medal in the weight throw, owning the eighth-best toss in country at 69-4 (21.13m.).
Spartan student-athletes have been posting top conference times all season as MSU looks to escape the 10th-place showing from 2008. Big Ten leaders include Jeremy Orr (200 and 400m.) and Shane Knoll (one-mile). Knoll’s one-mile time of 3:57.36 ranks second among all NCAA runners so far this year.
Thee 2008 fifth-place finishers Minnesota Golden Gophers return most of their top scorers from last year’s event and look to be in contention for the Big Ten Title. In the 3,000m., Hassan Mead and Chris Rombough rank No. 1 and 2 in the Big Ten. Teammates R.J. McGinnis, Brock Spandl and Joey Schwecke have the three highest heptathlon point totals recorded by a conference athlete this season. Look for Ibrahim Kabia (60m.) and Aaron Studt (throws) to earn quality points for the Gophers as well.
Ohio State fields one the most well-rounded programs at the championships with potential scorers in every event. Look for seniors Matt Comer, Jeff See and Patrick Whalen to pilot the Buckeyes this year.
The Nittany Lions hope to bring home major points in the jumps as seniors Clarence Smith and Ryan Fritz own the nation’s top-15 marks in the triple jump and the high jump, respectively. Sophomore Sam Borchers looks for gold in the 800m., heading into the meet with a Big Ten leading time of 1:48.90.
Last year’s runner-up Purdue brings back many of the same talent from 2008, including last season’s Freshman of the Year Josh Hembrough. While Hembrough will lead the Boilermakers on the track, look for Eric Sparks (pole vault) and Ben Harpenau (throws) to guide the field athletes.
Wisconsin seeks its ninth-straight Big Ten Indoor title as the Badgers once again field a wealth of talent on the track. Jack Bolas, Quinn Evans, Craig Miller, Landon Peacock and Christian Wagner are all among the Big Ten’s best in their respective track events. Junior Rayme Mackinson holds the conference’s best distance in the long jump and hopes to improve upon his second-place showing last year.
Penn State hosts the Big Ten Indoor Championships for the second time in program history and the first since 2001.